Peace

What’s in Your Bag of Shit?

I was listening to Neil Strauss the other day on Tom Bilyeu’s youtube interview series called “Inside Quest” and something he said really stuck out to me. He said that we all carry around a “bag of shit” or in other words- some story we’ve made up about our unworthiness or how we’re unlovable.  Then we operate and interact with the outside world looking for evidence to add to our “bag of shit” and to support our dis-empowering story we have made up about ourselves.  We will even fabricate and alter certain events through our own skewed perceptive filter just to support our story and give us a sense of certainty that we are right. We then often times use this “bag of shit” we carry around with us to motivate us to achieve more, acquire more or to hunt for the perfect spouse or partner.  We really believe that if we get that prized possession or relationship- then we will finally be enough, lovable or feel good about ourselves. Some people spend their whole life seeking the very thing they believe will help them let go of and forget about their “bag of shit”.  The irony is that as long as you are holding onto the bag of shit and keep your inferiority saga in the recesses of your mind, nothing and no one will ever give you the feelings of being enough or being lovable. 

 

The only way to free yourself from this trap is to let go of your bag of shit and to become aware of the narrative that is running your life. The old story is driven by fear, lack and scarcity. If you don’t believe you are enough right now, no amount of money, fame, relationships, or anything outside of you will ever be able to give you the feelings of security, significance and love you are seeking. Those external rewards only magnify the relationship you have internally with yourself. If you love yourself, feel worthy and have a loving and compassionate relationship with yourself- then you will have healthy and loving relationships with others, money, possessions, etc. 

 

What is largely running people in our world is an error in self definition. A major error. A colossal mistake in perception and judgement. People use money, relationships, power, status, jobs, religious affiliation and much more to define themselves. They create a fictional game about how their person-hood and self worth is tied to their success or effectiveness in one or more of these areas. The issue with this approach to defining yourself is these external things are largely, if not completely outside of our control. One of my favorite authors, Robert Greene says that we only have control over 5-6% of what happens in our world and experience on this earth. ONLY 5-6%. He also affirmed that the way to best impact our world is to only focus and exert our energy in that small window (5-6%) of where we actually have control. Therefore if we maximize our focus, attention and energy to improve and affect only what we can control, then we will be able to change our circumstances and impact the world. Where most people go wrong is they spend the majority of their time, attention and energy on the 94-95% of things that are 100% outside of their control. This leaves them powerless and victims of their circumstances.  Therefore if you are going to define yourself and base your identity on your job, relationship, status or any external thing, you are due to be a slave to circumstances, others and the world. As Joe Donnelly says, 

 

“You can either be the CEO of your own life or you can be life’s employee”. 

 

I am not proposing that you say “hell with it” to creating a business, forming relationships, making money or seeking things externally. I am just warning you of the trap of being attached to those external things. And more importantly the emotional death you will experience if you tie your identity to them and sell your soul for them.  I have been in relationships where I put my girlfriend up on a pedestal and derived my sense of self from being her boyfriend. At first it was an exhilarating rush of oxytocin, but it soon became pure slavery. Obligations, ownership, and expectations within the relationship crippled my ability to do anything else in the world and to feel like I was living my true purpose. 

 

What I am proposing is balance. Like the Samurai warriors of ancient Japan, they embodied balance probably better than anyone. On one hand they were very masculine, tough, hard-driving and resilient. They were some of the toughest and most skilled warriors in the history of the world and they protected their villages by killing and eliminating the enemy. Yes this was their rigid and strong masculine side. However they did not live 100% of the time on this side of their nervous system. They also had a feminine side, which was more flowing, compassionate and flexible. They would write poetry, dance, play the flute and make love to their wives. They intuitively understood that they needed to balance their lives and their nervous systems in order to be the most fulfilled, the happiest and healthiest they could be. 

 

If they lived 100% of the time in their masculine warrior motif, they would have died much younger. The cortisol would have be firing at all times and this inevitably would have decreased their lifespan and diminished their overall level of life satisfaction. Conversely they innately knew that operating in the feminine side of their nervous system was going to give them fulfillment and rejuvenate their soul and spirit. 

 

All too often today we see individuals lack balance. They are all Type A power, strength and aggression. Sure they might achieve some pretty great success, but at what price? At the price of their enjoyment and fulfillment on this earth?  Then we see others who operate on the other side of the dialectic. They are accepting, flowing and peaceful. Yet they have no drive and contribute very little to the world. Finding the middle of the paradox is a way to strike a balance and achieve both the science of success and the art of fulfillment. 

 

Life is the most hilarious and ironic teacher around. We set a goal and we invest everything into that goal, only to find out that once we actually attain the goal, that the very goal/prize itself is not what we really wanted after all. Here are some higher values that I believe are the things we are really after:

 

1. Flow– a level of presence, creativity and mindfulness of enjoying an activity/interaction just for the sake of engaging in it. 

 

2. Contribution– the secret to living is giving. PERIOD. Nothing lights up and energizes the human spirit like giving and serving a fellow man.  Depression, anxiety and all forms of mental health impairments vanish when one looks to give and contribute.

 

3. Growth– I don’t care how many friends you have, how successful you have been- if you are experiencing progress in your life- you are dying. What does the Bible say? “Where there is no vision, the people perish”

 

4. Who we become. It is not the accolades, money, possessions that truly fulfills us at the end of the day, but it is rather the person we have to become in order to solve those problems and achieve those goals. The ultimate satisfaction in life is complete 100% CONGRUENCE. Living in alignment with your values is the ultimate fulfillment. 

 

 

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BOOK OF THE WEEK: I: Reality and Subjectivity by David Hawkins

This is the third book in David Hawkins’ Power vs. Force trilogy. His first book in the trilogy is Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior (1994) and the second book is The Eye of the I: From Which Nothing is Hidden. I have highlighted the first two books in prior weeks and though there is a lot of repetitive material, I highly recommend reading the third book I: Reality and Subjectivity.  Reading this trilogy is not an exercise in accumulating more knowledge, rather it is a practice in advancing one’s level of consciousness. Just the mere experience of reading Hawkins’ work can shift you at an emotional level and raise your consciousness.  I spent the last three months reading this whole trilogy. I would spend on average 30-60 minutes a day just letting his words wash over me. When you sit down with these dense books, it is best to read them slowly and be patient with your comprehension of the material. Insights will come to you that you have never thought before- I guarantee it. It is a spiritual experience. Personally, I see it as a form of meditation and consciousness building.

I am not going to go into great detail about the content of this third book, because the experience of reading it for yourself is going to be transformative for you. I however did want to share a fair amount of passages from the book which I found to meaningful.

Profound Passages

“There was the ability to perceive the reality that underlay personalities and that the origin of emotional sickness lay in people’s belief that they were their personalities” (xx)

“The Presence is silent and conveys a state of peace that is the space which and by which All Is and has its existence and unfolds. It is infinitely gentle and yet like a rock. With it, all fear disappears. Spiritual joy occurs on a quiet level of inexplicable ecstasy. The experience of time stops; there is no apprehension or regret, no pain or anticipation. The source of joy is unending and ever present. With no beginning or ending, there is no loss or grief or desire. Nothing needs to be done as everything is already perfect and complete.” (xxv)

“People wonder ‘How does one reach this state of awareness’, but few follow the steps because they are so simple. First, the desire to reach the state was intense. Then began the discipline to act with constant and universal forgiveness and gentleness, without exception. One has to be compassionate towards everything, including one’s own self and thoughts. Next came a willingness to hold desires in abeyance and surrender personal will at every moment. As each thought, feeling, desire or deed was surrendered to God, the mind became increasingly silent. At first, it released whole stories and paragraphs, then ideas and concepts.  As one lets go of wanting to own these thoughts, they no longer reach such elaboration and begin to fragment while only half formed. Finally it was possible to surrender the energy behind the very process of thinking itself before it even became thought” (xxvi)

“There is also the path to sudden enlightenment, which may occur in a seemingly spontaneous manner or as a result of meditation or some spiritual practice, or merely by being in the presence of an enlightened teacher.  Great leaps in consciousness result from surrendering oneself to God at great depth. This is seen in our society in people who have hit rock bottom. Willfulness/pride surrenders and transformation occurs. From the pits of hell, paradoxically, heaven is close by… Thus many levels of consciousness can be transcended. These are often preceded by long periods of inner agony.” (19)

“People hate me” stems from one’s own inner hatreds. ‘People don’t care about me’ stems from one’s narcissistic absorption with one’s happiness and gain instead of that of others. “I don’t get enough love” stems from not giving love to others. “People are rude to me” stems from lack of cordiality to others. “People are jealous of me” arises from inner jealousy of others. Thus, if we take responsibility for being the author of our world, we come close to its source where we can correct it. By being loving toward others, we discover that we are surrounded by love and lovingness. When we unreservedly support life without expecting gain, life supports us in return. When we abandon gain as motive, life responds with unexpected generosity. When we perceive in this way, the miraculous begins to appear in the life of ever spiritual aspirant. Harmony manifests as the unexpected discovery, the fortuitous coincidence and the lucky break, and finally the realization occurs that these are the ripples coming back to oneself from the seat of consciousness” (22) 

“In reality, nothing thoughts say about oneself or others have any reality. All statements are fallacious and represent programming and positionalities. There are also positive statements about one’s worth, merit, or value that are equally based on fiction. The true self is invisible and has no characteristics by which it can be judged.” (25)

 

“Goal fulfillment is self-rewarding if the goal of the aspirant is one of direction. Then a life dedicated to God is endlessly self fulfilling, whereas, in contrast, a life devoted to gain is full of pitfalls and suffering” (26)

“It is necessary to examine the nature of an attachment.  It is based on a belief and a desire. The belief is that a mental content will bring happiness and solve problems; therefore, the attachment is to the implied promise that it is the thinking itself that is the road to happiness (success, wealth, love, etc). To let go of the thinking therefore seems frightening because it is also seen as the main tool of survival; plus, it is ‘me’. As ‘me’, it is viewed as unique, personal and precious, and it constitutes the main data base of identification of ‘who I am’. The fear of the loss of self- identity brings up resistance. As we get closer to the discovery of the source of the ego’s tenacity, we make the amazing critical discovery that we are enamored with our self.  Even if thoughts are loaded with pain and failure and have been a disaster and source of suffering, we still cling to them because they are who I am, resulting in love/hate relationship with them. To ensure its survival, the self also learned how to juice satisfaction and energy from the negative emotional states. It thrives on injustice, martyrdom, failure and guilt. The ego secretly loves and clings to the position of victimhood and extracts a distorted pleasure and grim justification from pain and suffering. This can be seen in many cases as an addiction and a lifestyle. All along we have been in love with our thoughts and we cherish them. We defend them and make excuses for them. We are jealous of our beliefs. We prize them and alternately despise and punish ourselves with guilt and self hatred. Altogether, it is infatuation. The self-image gets glamorized because it is the stage upon which the drama of our life parades. To let go of love brings up fear of loss. To the self, all love objects are seen as a source of happiness. The next core problem is letting go of emotional love- not because of the love itself, but because of the attachment to that which is loved. We think that the loss of a love object brings grief, but actually, the grief is about the loss of the attachment itself, which is due to viewing the object of love as the source of happiness. Grief is due to the illusion that one has lost a source of happiness, and that the source of happiness is ‘out there’. If one looks at the feeling of happiness, it becomes clear that it is actually located within, although the trigger may appear to come from outside oneself; the sensation, however, is totally an inner feeling of pleasure. The source of happiness is therefore actually within and is released under favorable circumstances when the mind experiences a desired outcome. By inner examination, one will discover that the event merely triggers an inner innate capacity. With the discovery that the source of happiness is actually within one’s inner self and therefore cannot be lost, there is a reduction of fear. Viewed from reality, thoughts are actually an ‘out there’. Although it may sound amazing, they can totally be dispensed with because they interfere with the achievement of true happiness” (40-41)

Some Axiomatic Positionalities of the Ego

Phenomena are either good or bad, right or wrong, just or unjust, fair or unfair.

The ‘bad’ deserve to be punished and the ‘good’ rewarded.

Things happen by accident or else they are the fault of somebody else.

The mind is capable of comprehending and recognizing truth from falsehood.

The world causes and deternines one’s experiences.

Life is unfair because the innocent suffer while the wicked go unpunished.

People can be different than they are.

It is critical and necessary to be right.

It is critical and necessary to win.

Wrongs must be righted.

Righteousness must prevail.

Perceptions represent reality (45)

“Surrender is a constant process of not resisting or clinging to the moment but instead, continuously turning it over to God. The attention is thus focused on the process of letting go and not on the content of ‘what’ is being surrendered.” (48)

“The Source of joy of spiritual endeavor stems from the work itself and is not dependent on outcomes or the achievement of goals.The replacement of resentment with peaceful acceptance is its own reward. There is a progressive alteration in one’s view of self and others. When this happens, one’s life story can then be re-contextualized from a more compassionate understanding” (53).

 

“The ‘politically correct’ activists seem to precipitate an endless series of social conflicts and strife. What is the core of the problem?  They are elitist and calibrate at 180, the level of pride and vanity of egotism.  The error is again one of ignoring context. Although supposedly egalitarian, they paradoxically adopt superior attitudes and pose as high moral ground. They attempt to gain power and control over others by romanticized idealism.” (62)

 “What is the best attitude to view society? One of compassionate benevolence. The average person’s psyche is overwhelmed by layers of programmed belief systems of which they are unaware. Out of naivete and the belief in the principle of causality, the supposed causes and their solutions are sough ‘out there'” (81)

“It is actually more exciting because one learns to live on the crest of the current moment instead of on the back of the wave, which is the past, or on the front of the wave, which is the future. There is greater freedom from living on the exciting knife edge of the moment than being a prisoner of the past or having expectations of the future. If the goal of life is to the very best one can do at each unfolding moment of existence, then, through spiritual work, one has already escaped the primary cause of suffering. In the stop frame of the radical present, there is no life story to react to or edit.” (94)

“Compassion and forgiveness do not mean approval” (113)

“We that trying to overcome the ego without really understanding it brings up guilt, self-condemnation and other negative feelings, which is one of the main reasons why many people are reluctant to become involved in spiritual work. Because of this, people are afraid to be honest with themselves and tend to project the downside of the ego onto others or even onto God” (113)

“Humility and surrender at great depth, as well as prayer, can shorten the process. The seeming duration of time is because one is looking for a result. Even when the ego’s energies have been disconnected, its momentum seems to need to run out. For instance, when a giant ship, such as a great tanker, stops its engine, it often continues for several miles farther before it finally comes to stop.” (120)

“What characteristics facilitate comprehension and transformation? Dedication, devotion, faith, prayer, surrender and inspiration. When the barriers are relinquished, Truth reveals itself spontaneously” (135)

“What does the Self feel like? It is central, solid, profound, still, immutable, nonlocal, diffuse, all encompassing, peaceful, tranquil, comfortable, secure, emotionless, joy, infinite lovingness, protection, closeness, safety, complete fulfillment and ultrafamiliar” (138)

“How does one then live in the world? One participates but is not involved in or attached to it. One can observe without being judgmental. Detachment would require withdrawal from the world, whereas nonattachment allows participation as there is no stake in outcomes. The game is entertaining, but which side ‘wins’ is of no importance.” (146)

“By analogy, fear arises from perception, and its concomitant is a release of adrenaline. Discovering where adrenaline arises from in the body does not explain fear because adrenaline is merely a consequence and a concomitant, not the cause, which has already occurred in the consciousness field of perception. It would be naive to assume that to discover where joy is experienced by the brain is the cause of that joy. The brain and its physiology exist within the world of form, and spiritual states originate within the nonlinear reality of nonform.” (148)

“True spiritual authority is rooted in Truth and thus has no need or desire to be authoritarian.  It has no argument nor does it have a desire or a need for acceptance.  It would be a misuse of spiritual power to try to use it to control the minds of people. Authoritarianism is intrinsically insecure and therefore has to insist on agreement with its belief system; it is the antithesis of freedom” (160)

“To successfully transcend the seeming opposites, it is only necessary to see that what appear to be two different or opposing concepts are actually just gradations of possibilities that change quality as they progress along a single base line of perception” (169)

“How did a good God create a world that includes evil?’ The answer, of course, is that He did not. The seeming opposites exist in the mind of man as perceptions and positionalities.” (173)

 “Detachment from positionalities, and especially the positionalities occasioned by labeling, leads to serenity, freedom and security. Greater serenity arises from relating to the context of life, rather than to the content which is primarily a game board of interacting egos. The broader style of relating to life leads to greater compassion and emancipation from being at the effect of the world” (179).

“The human psyche becomes attached to qualifying and rating everything on arbitrary social scales of desirability, appeal or value. Whole lives can become devoted to pursuing some mystique in which subtle distinctions become inflated and sought after for their social symbolism. This can lead to an endless seeking of status, possessions, wealth and symbols of endless seeking of status, possessions, wealth, and symbols of distinctions, as well as the need to be right about everything” (187).

“To undo the endless sequences of wanting and craving, it is useful to dissemble them by doing an exercise called “and then what?” I want (a better job, more money, better car, college degree or whatever), followed by the question, “and then what?” It will be found that the answer is always the final belief that “and then I will be happy”. (190)

“There is a great joy in the realization that one does not actually need anything at all to be happy, not even external stimuli, such as television, music, conversation, or the presence of other people or activities” (191)

“The common element  of most fears is that they are based on the illusion that happiness is dependent on externals and therefore vulnerable.  To overcome the illusion of vulnerability brings great relief and the correction of being run by fear so that life becomes benign and filled with satisfaction and an easy-going, confident attitude instead of constant guardedness.  Cessation of fear is the result of learning that the source of happiness and joy is from within. It stems from recognizing that its source of joy is one’s own existence, which is continuous and not dependent on externals.  This results from surrendering expectations and demands on one’s self, the world and others. The thought ‘I can only be happy if I win or get what I want’ is a guarantee of worry, anxiety and unhappiness” (200)

“Thus, poverty is not basically a financial condition but is instead a concomitant and consequence of a specific level of consciousness that cannot be cured by financial assistance. More often, financial aid worsens the poverty as it gives a stimulus to the already excessive birth rate which then brings even further poverty” (206)

“Healthy self interest includes concern for the welfare of others, whereas selfishness disregards others. Self-interest is not destructive to others and is therefore integrous and increases self-esteem. Egotism is separatist and seeks gain at a cost to others, leading to a loss of inner self-esteem. It is therefore vulnerable, non-integrous, and an illusory self-inflation that leads to loss of self-respect” (234)

“The attachment to love is really the trap and the barrier to enlightenment. In Reality, love is freedom, but attachment to love is a limitation” (281)

“This illustrates the phenomenon of entrainment which was described in Power vs. Force. Clinically, this phenomenon is well-known in twelve-step recovery groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, in which the aspirant is advised to “just keep going to meetings and you will get it by osmosis.” Exposure to the group’s aura (at 540) results in the miracle of recovery. It takes a very powerful energy field to overcome the very strong entrapment of addiction. As long as the sober person stays within the protection of the field, sobriety continues, but relapse occurs if they leave unless their own calibrated level of consciousness has advanced to the necessary level of 540.” (306)

“The ego’s addiction and survival are based on the secret pleasure of negativity, which cannot be abandoned until it is first recognized, identified and owned without shame or guilt” (311).

“The ego’s focus is narrow and constricted by intention, which is therefore selective. It constantly seeks ‘problems’. To the ego, everything can be seen as a problem. As a consequence, the ego’s evaluation of situations is often prone to very serious error and miscalculation” (318)

“The ego is potentially deadly and would rather see you dead than admit it is wrong” (319)

“While the world may have the expectation that the life of a spiritually committed person should be holy and tranquil, quite often the opposite may occur. The karma is activated and brought up into awareness. Major changes may occur in the aspirant’s life and relationships. For some years, life may appear to be tumultuous as profound inner changes take place. These may involve lifestyle, vocation, relationships, and possessions, all of which may rapidly come and go. Change in geographic location is common. Friends and family in the world may think the devotee has gone mad, left reality and gone overboard” (337)

“Enlightenment means that the former personal identity and all that had been believe about it have been erased, removed, transcended, dissolved and displaced. The particular has been replaced by universal, qualities have been replaced by essence, the linear has been replaced by the nonlinear, and the discrete has been replaced by the unlimited” (346)

“Man thinks, but thinking is a two edged sword. The bird flies about, enjoying its life and does not need to study ornithology or even know that it is a bird.  It doesn’t need to understand or know anything because it just is.

“Any approach will reveal that attachments are the core problem to be overcome through relinquishment. The problem is not money, or sex or pleasure but the attachment to them, plus the illusion that the source of happiness is external, which brings up fear of loss.” (349)

“Attachment is a very peculiar quality of the ego. It can be totally undone in all its pervasive and multitudinous forms of clinging by simply letting go of one’s faith in it or belief in its value as a reality. This one giant step is a confrontation to being unaware of one’s attachments. The attachment to ‘self’ or ‘me’ or ‘I’ is a basic trap. The mind is attached to the very process of attachment itself as a survival tool.” (350-351)

“Humor is a means of detachment or re-contextualizing the events of life.  It is a way of being light hearted and wearing the world like a loose garment.  It leads to compassion for the totality of human life and reveals the option that one can play at life without getting involved in it as though it were an exhausting life-and-death struggle. Humor is inclusive of life and is a level of compassion. Indifference, in contrast, is exclusive of life. Humor allows for participation; indifference leads to nonparticipation.  Humor enjoys while indifference yields flatness and ennui” (354-355)

“One has to discern the difference between ‘rights’ and ‘privileges’. All so-called rights are merely privileges that are granted by societal agreement. To understand that concept spells the difference between gratitude and arrogance.  The illusion of rights is an ego inflation which can lead to a narcissistic positionality of entitlement, with its hostile, demanding, unappreciative, and paranoid attitudes. One cannot acquire rights by oneself; they are an earned gift from free society.” (377)

 “The way to truth is via radical honesty” (383)

“The rebirth of the eog/self/I occurs again every morning upon awakening. With observation, one can see that awareness returns at first as merely the return of conscious awareness. As the identifications slowly reappear, one becomes aware of location, but the awakening mind doesn’t even know what day it is. Then it slowly again identifies with the world, place, time and name and all the past identifications return from memory.” (385-386)

“It is useful to pretend that one has no memory” (386)

“Nonattachment does not mean passivity or nonaction; thus, one can take a stance in the world to defend innocence as a commitment to the integrity of truth.  As we saw prior to World War II, the passivity and naivety of Neville Chamberlin invited Nazi aggression to pursue the rabbit. In mountain country, everyone knows that to run from the mountain lion invites its attack. If life is sacred, then to defend life is aligned with the will of God, and it is not intrinsically an act of aggression” (396)

“The inner ‘high’ of righteous indignation, being right or hating enemies turns out to be disappointing in hollow illusions of victory.  The mature spiritual aspirant is one who has explored the ego’s options and false promises of happiness.  The ego’s final song, after examination, is represented by a famous singer’s poignant song, “Is This All There Is?” (397)

The Absolute Worst Thing You Can Do When You Feel Down or Depressed

Over the course of the past 5 years I have read a lot of books on emotions, depression, peak performance, anxiety and overall cognitive functioning. Through my aikido, meditation and several other practices have begun to understand these things on an experiential level. I have been to the lowest of lows (a deep depression) and the highest of highs. And after enough time spent in both places, I have come to some level of observation and self awareness with what goes on during each of those experiences. Today, I want to present to you a simple strategy for dealing with a down moment or a bout of depression that takes you under and engulfs you. 

I am speaking from my own experience in a depressed state as well as several other people who report a similar experience. In an emotional state of depression, everything looks bleak. I feel lonely, disconnected from society, helpless and hopeless. I see absolutely zero potential for anything positive to happen in my future whether it be in terms of relationships, money, experiences, work- whatever. I literally feel like a “shit-magnet”. Bad shit seems to stick to me. Everyone I encounter is a selfish jerk. The best way I can describe depression is a complete and overwhelming tunnel vision for everything negative. And as Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania has affirmed, the bleak perception of our reality feels permanent (like it’s going to last forever), pervasive (like every aspect of our life is fucked) and highly personal (like we as a person are majorly defective). 

 I have noticed that when I have been depressed, I will freeze frame my current “shitty” reality and conceptualize it in my mind that it is going to be this way forever. It makes me not even want to live anymore. I feel like giving up. I then begin to ask myself questions like, “what is wrong with me?” and “what’s the point anyway?”. I try to go up in my head and think my way out of the problem.  If there is one thing to take away from the lesson today it is this:

Intellectualizing and trying to rationally think your way out of a troubling emotional state is the worst thing you can possibly be doing to feel better. Your trying to solve a problem from a impaired level of thinking. It makes no sense, however we as humans love to see ourselves as smart creatures who can think our way out of shit. 

Einstein nailed it right on the head when he said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”. And this quote is quite applicable to depression.  When we are in a low level of consciousness, it is impossible to get ourselves out of it by thinking more. 

Instead what needs to be understood is that our feelings are a signal. And this powerful signal of “I feel like death” is telling us that our thinking is off!  Way off. Therefore, the only thing you have to do when you start feeling like absolute crap is begin to not believe in the thoughts that are creeping into your mind. I just read Garrett Kramer’s peak performance books Stillpower and The Path of No Resistance and I really love his paradigm regarding this. He asserts that you should “feel what you feel, but don’t believe what you think”. Our terrible feelings are a powerful signal- to disregard and be disbelieving of our thoughts- not to cling to them and try to rationally joust with them. 

The more you can begin to simply sit with your feelings and not try to create a story around them about why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling- this is when you will escape the grips of your depression. What keeps the depression in place is the constant thinking that ‘this event’ or ‘that person’ is to blame for my depression. This type of thinking is not going to get you out of your depression, it is only going to ensure that you stay in that state of mind longer. If you just sit still and begin to quietly retreat to the silent confines of your mind- you will start to notice that your depression will begin to subside and eventually drift away. Our brains and bodies have the natural tendency to self-correct. There is a built auto-pilot mechanism built into our nervous system if we simply let go of needing to control every process along the way. 

When we try to think our way of our depression- we are trying to “will” it and control every step in the process. This absolutely shuts off our self-corrective mechanism in our brain that is the skeleton key to our emotional regulation. The less energy and power you give your depressing thoughts- the sooner you will start to see your emotional state rise. And then pretty soon thereafter your perception will begin to broaden. You will start to see things in brighter color, see the hopeful (and realistic) future and get out the blame-game you’ve been playing with yourself. 

This process takes a keen level of self awareness. Most people get into a depressed state and they try to fight it- but that just gives it more energy. Think about depression like your little brother or that neighbor of yours who is a shit-grinning twerp. The more you engage with your little brother, the more he is going to try to annoy you and rattle you. However when you laugh at him and not let what he is doing bother you- he goes away because it is no fun for him anymore. Depression is the same way. Begin to watch your hopeless thoughts come into your awareness. Don’t let them hook you, just watch them and be accepting of them. Sit there through the painful experience and become an outstanding observer of your own mind. This is the secret to mastering your inner world- becoming a master observer of your own mind and it’s default patterns and tendencies. 

Once you begin to observe and not absorb or attach to these negative thoughts- your consciousness will begin to rise and the heavy feelings will start to lighten drastically. It will feel like a exhilarating experience. The more you can practice this, the better you will get. As Garrett Kramer loves to say, it’s all about STAYING IN THE GAME. If you hang around long enough and don’t fight the negative thoughts and bleak perspective- it will all turn around. It always does. But the minute you begin to try to understand why you are feeling like crap and begin to create some narrative about your depression- you have lost the game. 

We all have a unique inner life force. I believe it is God within us, others call it a whole lot of different things. However, this force is the very thing that guides us intuitively and if given the freedom to work for us- can produce miracles. I know relinquishing control and not engaging with the depressing thoughts is a major challenge that most will probably fail at their first few times. Yet, all it takes is one breakthrough and it will change your life forever. One experience of letting your inner guide take over and guide you out of your depression will allow you to never be a hostage to this crippling condition ever again. It’s amazing. 

So you have 2 choices. You can either be a victim and continue to fight with your annoying shit-grinning little brother (depressive thoughts) and continue to feel agitated (depression). Or you can begin to observe and allow your annoying little brother to “try” to bother you, but never actually bite the hook (depressive thoughts)- therefore making him disinterested and leaving you alone so that you can be in peace (free of depression).

 If you tend to fall down the “rabbit hole” of depression, I suggest hanging two signs around your place as a reminder. One is from Kramer’s book:

“STAY IN THE GAME”

And the other is from the Navy Seal movie Lone Survivor:

“No matter how much it hurts, how dark it gets or no matter how far you fall, you are never out of the fight.”

The second quote is what gave me the hope to carry on in the darkest of my depression a couple years ago. Though I really had no where to turn and felt almost entirely hopeless- I kept looking at that quote and it kept me looking for another way- another answer. I’d read another book, I’d watch another youtube video, I just kept going. Until pretty soon, I was guided to meet my mentor. And that was the moment that changed everything. So I suggest you adopt this belief. If you believe there is always a way- you will find a way. People, when their either going to die or succeed- they tend to succeed. Hunger is your greatest asset. Plain and simple. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK OF THE WEEK: The Eye of the I: From Which Nothing is Hidden, by David Hawkins

Last week I highlighted David Hawkins’ most popular book- Power vs. Force, this week we will look at the second book of the Power vs. Force trilogy entitled The Eye of I: From Which Nothing is Hidden.  While Power vs. Force is a great appetizer on the subject of human consciousness, this book is definitely the entrée. It goes into much greater depth about the nature of duality and how our ego misperceives the world and is the cause of our suffering. I recommend this book for anyone who wants more peace, love and compassion in their life. I do think it is probably best to read this trilogy in order because they do build on each other. 

The aspect I love most about Hawkins’ writing is how it shifts the reader at an emotional level while they are reading. Similar to meditation or a martial art- how you get in that flow or zen-like state of love, peace and joy- the same thing occurs when you read Hawkins. I found this elevation in consciousness to be particularly profound in this book of his. This is not a book to be read in a weekend. I believe one will get the most out of reading this book if they take one chapter a day and spend about 3 weeks to a month with this book.  Thus, one’s consciousness will be elevated throughout the 3-4 weeks of reading it. I also found it particularly helpful to read a chapter of this book, then immediately spend 30 minutes to an hour in quiet meditation. This book is meditative in nature, so adding a formal meditative practice along with this book adds another element to it. 

When I started my journey into the personal development years ago, I didn’t intend to get into books on spirituality and consciousness. Yet, in hindsight I now understand why my journey has led me to reading books by authors like David Hawkins, Eckhart Tolle and David Singer. These books all address the ego. The ego is the part of ourselves as humans which is responsible for our suffering. By gaining a greater understanding of what our ego is and how it works, we can learn to cultivate a friendlier relationship with it and reduce and eliminate much of the suffering that plagues our lives. After reading numerous books on the ego, I believe The Eye of the I and the third book in the trilogy (I: Reality & Subjectivity) to be the two best books in regards to explaining the ego. 

And as always, here are the passages that I highlighted during my reading of the book. These really spoke to me and are a great daily reminder for me.

 

“One becomes enamored of this precious ‘self’, which then becomes an obsession and the subjective focus of languaging and thought. The self becomes glamorized as the hero of one’s life story and drama. This requires that the self be defended and that its survival become all important. This includes the necessity to be right at any cost.”

“The value of memory also becomes diminished by the realization that only does the mind misperceive in the present, but it routinely does so in the past, and what one is remembering is really the record of past illusions. All past actions were based on the illusion of what one thought one was at the time.”

“The relinquishment of the ego self as one’s central focus involves letting go of all these layers of attachments and vanities, and one eventually comes face to face with the ego’s primary function of control to ensure continuance and survival. Therefore the ego clings to all its faculties because their basic purpose, to ensure its survival, is the reason behind its obsession with gain, winning, learning, alliances, and accumulation of possessions, data and skills. The ego has endless schemes for enhancing survival- some gross, some obvious, others subtle and hidden”

“The only simple task to be accomplished is to let go of the identification with the ego as one’s real self!”

“Sometimes the ego misidentifies itself more specifically as the personality. It thinks, “I am such-and-such a person.” And it says, “Well, that’s who I am”. From this illusion arises the fear that one will lose one’s personality if the ego is relinquished. This is feared as the death of ‘who I am’.”

“The modern trend toward ‘political correctness’ is a great source of conflict, strife and suffering.  It is based on the imaginary ‘rights’. In reality there are no such things as rights. These are all social imaginings. Nothing in the universe has any rights. The whole area of ‘rights’ leads to a ‘chip on the shoulder’ attitude, victim, illusions of causality and revenge. All this displaces personal responsibility for one’s own experience of life.”

“The problem with the ego is not that it is wrong; it is just that it is limited and distorted. To conceive of the ego as an enemy is to become polarized, bringing forth conflict, guilt, anger and shame. Positionalities support the ego. By enlarging context, opposites are transcended and problems are dissolved. Humility removes the ego’s underpinnings of judgmentalism, positionality and moralizing.”

“in a system of considerable complexity, there is a very precise point where even a small amount of energy applied brings about a major change. A giant clockworks has a vulnerable point at which even a slight pressure stops the whole works. A giant locomotive can be halted in you know exactly where to place your finger.  The great clockwork of human society likewise has points where major change can occur as a result of a slight amount of pressure.”

“Love is misunderstood to be an emotion; actually, it is a state of awareness, a way of being in the world, a way of seeing oneself and others.  Love for God or nature or even one’s pets opens the door to spiritual inspiration. The desire to make others happy overrides selfishness. The more we give love, the greater our capacity to do so. It is a good beginning practice to merely mentally wish others well in the course of the day. Love blossoms into lovingness which becomes progressively more intense, nonselective and joyful. There comes a time one ‘falls in love’ with everything and everyone they meet. This tendency to be intensely loving has to be curtailed because love, curiously enough, frightens many people. Many people cannot look fully into another person’s eyes for more than a brief second, if at all. 

“Our society is one of excesses; it swings like a pendulum too far in one direction and then too far in the opposite because it gets caught in the duality of either/or and this and that. Maturity results in a middle way that allows for both ends of the spectrum of human behavior.” 

“Pride is at the core of the ego beyond all else. Pride in the form of the vanity of thought, mentation, concepts and opinions are all the basis of ignorance. The antidote is radical humility, which undoes the domination of perception. Ask for the truth to be revealed instead of assuming that you already know it.”

“One can enjoy beautiful music without the ego’s claiming authorship for the origination of the music itself. If one claims authorship for music, then many anxieties and feelings arise which have to do with belief systems about perfection, approval, desirability and acceptance.”

The Most Important Person You Haven’t Met Yet

Let me ask you a few questions.  If there was one person in the world you could meet and your entire life would turn around, who would it be? What would they be able to provide you with? How would your life be different? Just think about these questions for a moment. Sit and ponder them. And whenever you’re finished thinking about those questions (and maybe spending some time reflecting in your journal) keep on reading and you’ll see how you will come to meet that very person very soon.

The other day I was listening to some old audio cassette tapes from the 1980’s by Napolean Hill and W. Clement Stone entitled Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude. Though these tapes are ancient, they are the furthest thing from obsolete. It’s amazing how the laws of success and happiness are timeless. There’s something very satisfying about putting a cassette tape into a tape player and hearing the “click” right before it starts playing. Then when the tape is finished- flipping it over to listen to the other side. While I’m listening to these I sometimes imagine other greats like Tony Robbins, Sylvester Stallone, Jack Canfield and Marc Benioff listening to these same personal development cassette tapes decades ago. I use these old school cassette tapes as a form of learning. I have them playing in the background when I’m cooking dinner or brushing my teeth or cleaning the house. I see it as learning through osmosis. Though I am not taking notes and intently listening to every word- they are becoming deeply ingrained in my unconscious mind. Think about who you would be and where your life would be if you had the belief system and model of the world of Napolean Hill, Tony Robbins or W. Clement Stone. 

It was just the other day when I was listening to this tape by Hill and Stone and this one story jumped right out at me and caught my attention- so much so- that I had to rewind the tape and listen to it another two times! Here is story:

A lesson learned from a child. There is a wonderful little story about a minister who, one Saturday morning, was trying to prepare his sermon under difficult conditions. His wife was out shopping. It was a rainy day and his young son was restless and bored, with nothing to do. Finally, in desperation, the minister picked up an old magazine and thumbed through it until he came to a large brightly colored picture. It showed a map of the world. He tore the page from the magazine, ripped it into little bits and threw the scraps all over the living room floor with the words: 

“Johnny, if you can put this all together, I’ll give you a quarter”. 

The preacher thought this would take Johnny most of the morning. But within ten minutes there was a knock on his study door. It was his son with the completed puzzle. The minister was amazed to see Johnny finished so soon, with the pieces of paper neatly arranged and the nap of the world back in order. ‘Son, how did you get that done so fast?” the preacher asked. “Oh,” said Johnny, “it was easy. On the other side, there was a picture of a man. I just put a piece of paper on the bottom, put the picture of the man together, put a piece of paper on top, and then turned it over. I figured that if got the man right, the world would be right.” The minister smiled, and handed his son a quarter. “And you’ve given me my sermon for tomorrow, too,” he said. “If a man is right, his world will be right. ” There’s a great lesson in this idea. If you are unhappy with your world and want to change it, the place to start is with yourself. If you are right, your world will be right. This is what PMA is all about. When you have a Positive Mental Attitude, the problems of your world tend to bow before you. 

 

I hope by this point it has been revealed to you that your ‘future you’ is the most important person you haven’t met yet.  Jim Rohn used to say something very similar to what Hill and Stone were preaching when he said, “if you want life to change, you’ve gotta change. If you want life to get better, you’ve gotta get better. It’s the only way it happens. Luck shows up for people and it leaves them. But if you’re constantly improving who you and what you give- GAME OVER!” 

There are two relationships, two types of communication- that if you master these two- success, happiness and fulfillment is unlimited to you in the future. The first is your relationship with yourself. The second is your relationship with the outside world. However there is a caveat here. 99% of people try to master their relationship with the outside world. They seek approval, love, significance and acceptance from other people and the rest of the world. You may even be able to get this love and acceptance from others just by working to elicit reactions and responses from others and the outside- all while paying no focus to the first relationship (your communication with yourself). Most of our world employs this strategy. That is why we have a society full of posers, followers and people pleasers. I would argue that the issue with this externally focused approach is that it doesn’t lead to fulfillment because you are not expressing your truest nature.  If our greatest fulfillment is ultimately who we become- then how fulfilled and satisfied will we be when we spend our lives being a hostage to the love/approval and reactions of those around us?  As a mentor of mine has told me on a few occasions, “it is far better to be the right person, than to find the right person”. 

Robbin Williams, Chris Farley and John Belushi are great examples of men who mastered their communication with others and the outside world but had no relationship with themselves. They were loved, adored, accepted and very talented individuals. No one from the outside would have thought that they had a troubled internal world.  It is sad to say but they never mastered their internal communication, their relationship with themselves. They in fact neglected to even consider their relationship with them self. 

This is why the most important relationship and communication you can have in this world is the one with yourself. It should be prioritized over your relationship with the outside world- which even includes your family, relatives and friends. Without a compassionate and loving relationship with yourself, your life will be a constant struggle and suffering is guaranteed. Even better is that once you begin to master your internal communication and your relationship with yourself- your relationship with the outside world and other people takes on the same form. If you have a loving and compassionate relationship with yourself, then you will also have that same relationship with other people and the outside world. Yes, the simplicity and beauty of it. THE WORLD IS A MIRROR.

Yes, The world is a mirror. What do I mean by this? Generally speaking, the world we experience externally is nothing more than a mirror image and an identical representation of our internal world. This might sound trite, probably cliche and possibly boring. Yet this one metaphor applies to so many different facets of our human experience on this earth that perhaps you might get one new distinction out of this, that in turn will result in a 1% change. And that 1%, which right now seems meaningless, compounded over the course of days, months, weeks, years and decades- could be the difference in millions of dollars, a better family life or more fulfilling relationships.

So what does the metaphor “the world is a mirror” even mean?

The first way that this is practical is that you will always receive what you give out in world. If you are constantly giving love and kindness to the world, that is exactly what you will receive. It even goes for money too. The more money you give away, the more it will come back to you. So you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’ll get it back- just fucking give. The same is true for negative emotions and behavior.  Why is it that depressed people keep getting negative outcomes in their life? Because they are giving virtually nothing and looking to get everything. I think Wayne Dyer’s quote sums it up best (which I might have written about in a past post: 

“When you squeeze an orange, you’ll always get orange juice to come out. What comes out is what’s inside. The same logic applies to you: when someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, or says something unflattering or critical, and out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, tension, depression, or anxiety, that is what’s inside. If love and joy are what you want to give and receive, change your life by changing what’s inside.”

The second way in which the world is a mirror involves the way we view other people and our relationships with other people. Think of a time when you saw someone or met someone who you didn’t like or you believed to be “beneath you”. Maybe they were not as rich as you or not as good at something as you. And you instantly compared yourself and put yourself above them. Ironically, in this very moment you were doing nothing more than uncovering the way you really feel about yourself. When you think about others poorly and treat others poorly, that is truly a reflection of the way you treat yourself and think about yourself. You don’t see the world as it is, you see the world (and others) as you see yourself. Be conscious of this. Whenever you are being critical of someone, you are truly being critical of yourself. So when you look down on someone and consider them inferior, you are really expressing your own feelings of inferiority. The same goes for if you feel like you are perfect and you constantly are condemning others and their ways. This is just a grandiose situation of smoke and mirrors. In reality, you are projecting your feelings about yourself onto everyone else in the world you may come into contact with. That is why accepting everyone else (and everything) as they are is an incredibly powerful practice- because you in turn are accepting and loving yourself for exactly who you are. 

To nail down this point, there is a Hindi word- Genshai (GEN-shy). It means that you should never treat another person in a manner that would make them feel small. That means a rival, a homeless person or even a kid. IT EVEN MEANS YOURSELF. We spend so much time in self deprecating sub-vocalized self talk, belittling ourselves is almost like a full time job for us and we don’t even realize it. We’re on automatic, we’re not even conscious of it. Look to treat everyone you come into contact with- with dignity, respect and love. Can you find something good within everyone? I wonder what your life would look like and feel like to live with such unconditional love for all people. 

Perhaps this sheds some light on the animosity, resentment or the critical nature in which you may be operating with in your life. One strives so hard and diligently for success and sees everything as cutthroat competition. As a result, we are constantly making comparisons and negative appraisals of other people. Ultimately this pattern of thought and behavior is creating deep feelings of inadequacy and insecurity within our self. Take competition, judgment and criticizing out of one’s life and the world is their oyster. The wellsprings of success, wealth, love, joy and abundance open up and flow endlessly. Once this awareness is cultivated, the freedom to live fully and love fully becomes realized. 

The third point of discussion I find relevant has to do with how our world rewards altruism as well as loving and serving others. If your intent is only to serve yourself and only do things for your own gain, then you will only reap a limited reward. If your intent is to serve your family, you will reap a greater reward and a greater level of insight. If your intent is to help your community, you will gain an even greater level of insight and reward. AND if your intent is to serve humanity and contribute massively to mankind and everyone on this planet, then the amount of insight and reward you will receive in return is infinite. It is unlimited. 

Even when you are selfish and only looking out for yourself, it often times still tends to help someone else in some way. When the bumblebee goes from flower to flower to get nectar- it drags pollen along and fertilizes the flowers. It doesn’t try to, but it is contributing to the creation of life out of it’s own selfish act. With that being said- life serves more of what serves life. Everything has a web of connection. Reflect on this. Motive does matter. We will do a lot more for other people than we will ever do for ourselves. 

On a closing note, James Allen in As A Man Thinketh wrote something that illustrates this concept perfectly:

“Man is made or unmade by himself, in the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself.  He also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace”.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: Power vs. Force by David Hawkins

I first got hooked on David Hawkins’ work a couple years ago when I read his book Letting Go: The Pathway to Surrender (which is one of my favorite books and something I look forward reading again this year at some point). Power vs. Force is a seminal text for understanding the nature of human consciousness. I must say that it is best if you have read your fair share of self help and spiritual books before trying to dig into this one.  I remember trying to read Power vs. Force about a decade ago when I was just beginning my journey into the personal development world. It was completely over my head and I think I put it down after the first 15 or 20 pages.  If you are new to reading self help or spiritual books, I highly recommend you start with Michael Singer’s Untethered Soul or any of Eckhart Tolle’s work. Reading these should help to prime the pump so that you can really get the most out of Hawkins’ work. 

 I believe the findings in the book to be a revolutionary way of understanding human consciousness. By understanding these different levels of consciousness, you can begin to shift your own way of being and where you stand in the world. Listed below is Hawkins’ scale that he provides in the book:

 Level of Consciousness Scale

 Enlightenment 700-1000

 Peace 600

 Joy 540 (also unconditional love)

 Love 500

 Reason 400

 Acceptance 350

 Willingness 310

 Neutrality 250

 Courage 200

 Below 200

(Below the critical level of integrity):

 Pride 175

 Anger 150

 Desire 125

 Fear 100

 Grief 75

 Apathy 50

 Guilt 30

 Hawkins himself has said that just by reading this book, it raises the ‘level of consciousness’ of each reader by roughly 10-15 points, which is huge considering most human beings only advance by 5 points in their entire lifetime.  You might be asking yourself “why in the world I would want to raise my level of consciousness?” Imagine the greatest emotions you’ve experienced in your life- love, joy, peace, etc- and think about how it would feel to be living in those emotions 95-100% of your time on earth. What would that do for your life? What could you accomplish? What would your relationships look like? Who would you become? This is precisely the benefit to raising your level of consciousness. He also provides great references where people like Mother Teresa, Einstein and Ghandhi fall in terms of their level of consciousness. If you want more peace, joy and love in your life, I believe consciousness work is the way to get there. It is a process and patience and persistence is paramount.  What Power vs. Force really did for me is it challenged my paradigm and belief system about how the world works.  Anyone who wants a higher quality of life should spend time with this book- really grappling with what Hawkins is presenting to us.

 It should also be noted that Power vs. Force is the first of a trilogy. The second book in the trilogy is The Eye of I: From Which Nothing is Hidden and the third book is I: Reality and Subjectivity. I will be writing more about these books in the future, though I must say that Hawkins writes the next one better than the last. Though Power vs. Force is undoubtedly the most popular of the three, each book is progressively more profound than the previous one.  

 Here are some notable quotes from the book that I found to be very helpful distinctions and key points:

 “the body can discern, to the finest degree, the difference between that which is supportive of life and that which is not.” 

 “Living things all react to what is life-supportive and what is not; this is the fundamental mechanism of survival. Inherent in all life forms is the capacity to detect change and react correctively—thus, trees become smaller at higher elevations as the oxygen in the atmosphere becomes scarcer. Human protoplasm is far more sensitive than that of a tree.” 

 “By taking responsibility for the consequences of his own perceptions, the observer can transcend the role of victim to an understanding that ‘nothing out there has power over you.'”

 “Relatively few people are genuinely committed to peace as a realistic goal, for in their private lives, most people prefer being ‘right’ at whatever cost to their relationships or themselves.”

 “At the lower levels of consciousness, propositions are accepted as true even when they’re illogical, unfounded, and express tenets neither intellectually provable nor practically demonstrable.”

 “Facts are accumulated with great effort, but truth reveals itself effortlessly.”